We used this slide show to “pause” AV pros at a recent trade show. Most people understood the colloquial words and phrases that were presented in front of them but were perplexed when faced with the more “scientific” terminology. How many smell terms are you familiar with?
Whiff – a smell that is only smelled briefly or faintly. SensoryCo commentary – we like to do this in close quarters with our “triggered” solutions. Usually linked to content or actions by the participants.
Chemoreceptor – also known as chemosensor, is a sensory receptor that transduces a chemical signal into an action potential. In more general terms, a chemosensor detects certain chemical stimuli in the environment. SensoryCo commentary – in this case, responding to airborne chemicals. The chemoreceptors in question are located in the olfactory epithelium, a patch of tissue located in the nasal cavity. It’s about the sir of a postage stamp.
Fetid – smelling extremely unpleasant. SensoryCo commentary – we specialize in unpleasant smells. Scents for military applications are interesting for one. Other unpleasant smells provide a more immersive experience for experiential environments. The smell of a dungeon or a boy’s locker room, for example.
Amygdala – a roughly almond-shaped mass of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions. SensoryCo commentary – this is our favorite part of the brain. The amygdala processes emotion and, as part of the limbic system, can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously. Can you remember the smell of your father’s aftershave, even if the memory is from a distant childhood?
Bouquet – a characteristic scent. SensoryCo commentary – used to describe the scents derived from wine and flowers among other things.
Anosmia – the loss of the sense of smell, either total or partial. It may be caused by head injury, infection, or blockage of the nose. SensoryCo commentary – not our favorite medical condition but sometimes we run into people that we swear have a slight case.
Floral – pertaining to or consisting of flowers. SensoryCo commentary – self explanatory but can often be used to describe scents that you would not directly associate with flowers.
Olfactory Receptors – expressed in the cell membranes of olfactory receptor neurons are responsible for the detection of odor molecules. SensoryCo commentary – thank you olfactory receptors! Without you we wouldn’t be in business.
Biting – sharply affecting the organs of taste or smell, as if by a penetrating power; biting; acrid. SensoryCo commentary – see Trigeminal Nerve Fibers below to understand how a scent can be “biting”.
Trigeminal Nerve Fibers – the sensory system of our mouth and nose is made up of the fifth cranial nerve, also known as the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve carries pain, touch, and temperature sensations from the face, eyes, inside and outside the mouth, and the tongue. SensoryCo commentary – chemosensory irritation is linked directly to aromas we produce like simulated ammonia or simulated acetone. But also responsible in transmitting “hot” or “cool” smells. Spicy chilies anyone?
Reek – smell strongly and unpleasantly; stink. SensoryCo commentary – what reeks to one person does not necessarily reek to another. I just read an interesting article that introduced skunk as a smell that the author enjoyed (while thoroughly acknowledging that most would find it vastly unpleasant).
Malodorous – smelling very unpleasant. SensoryCo commentary – a malodorous smell reeks.
Buttery – containing or tasting like butter. SensoryCo commentary – now why would we use this in context of smell? Scents often have a “buttery” quality to them. In fact, many terms associated with taste can be used to describe smells as well. They are so closely linked.
Odoriferous – having or giving off a smell, especially an unpleasant or distinctive one. SensoryCo commentary – enough with the unpleasant smells. Let’s move on.
Earthy – resembling or suggestive of earth or soil. SensoryCo commentary – a great term to describe a range of aromas that include that certain quality. We find that wines are often “earthy.” But also the smell of a forest floor, a damp dungeon, or a vegetable garden.
Sweet – having the pleasant taste characteristic of sugar or honey; not salty, sour, or bitter. SensoryCo commentary – another taste reference that translates to how we perceive smells.
Hippocampus Trigger – SensoryCo commentary – OK, we made this one up. The hippocampus is a small region of the brain that forms part of the limbic system and is primarily associated with memory and spatial navigation. So a “hippocampus trigger” is naturally something that triggers the hippocampus, triggers a response based on memory. Smell could be one.